Ask A Trainer: Lessons From The Leash


by Kate Peterson Koch

Dear LFTL,

How do I protect my dog’s paws from snow, ice, and salt?

Protecting paws shouldn’t be taken lightly! Paws can dry out and crack just like our skin, and salt leaves our dogs open to irritation, burns, and even toxicity. Fortunately, there are more options than ever before to help those precious pads stay safe. The simplest option for most dog owners is to wipe the paws with a warm, wet washcloth and dry thoroughly. Make sure your dog’s feet are totally dry before he goes out again – dogs can get frostbite, too. For longer adventures, products like boots or a paw balm provide a protective barrier between your dog’s pads and the elements. There are even recipes online to make your own paw wax or balm, if you’re crafty. Always keep your dog’s feet trimmed to reduce snow accumulation between the pads. Whatever solution you choose, get your pup used to handling by feeding her something delicious while you gently touch her feet. Keep each experience short and fun so she looks forward to it. Soon you’ll both be pros at winter paws.

Dear LFTL,

People at the park have dogs who come when they’re called! Meanwhile, mine is running laps around me. Where do I start?

While a recall can’t be taught in just a few words, let’s practice some basic skills. Inside the house, toss a treat a short distance from you. When your dog eats it, make fun noises to get his attention. As he starts to come to you, say “YES!” and have a treat ready to deliver when he arrives. “YES” marks the moment he gets it right, and the treat you deliver is the reward. Practice this, keeping the game fun and easy. After some practice, replace the fun noise with calling his name in a cheerful tone. If he doesn’t respond, make some of those silly noises you practiced earlier instead of repeating his name. Be exciting and reward every time. This will get things moving in the right direction!

Happy training!